#NASA; #FrenchSpaceLaser; #MigrationOfOceanAnimals; #CALIPSO
WAshington, Nov 28 (Canadian-Media): Every night, under the cover of darkness, countless small sea creatures – from squid to krill – swim from the ocean depths to near the surface to feed. This vast animal migration – the largest on the planet and a critical part of Earth’s climate system – has been observed globally for the first time thanks to an unexpected use of a space-based laser.
Researchers used the space-based CALIPSO lidar to measure the planet’s largest animal migration, which takes place when small sea creatures swim up from the depths at night to feed on phytoplankton, then back down again just before sunrise. Credits: NASA/Timothy Marvel
Researchers observed this vertical migration pattern using the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite -- a joint venture between NASA and the French space agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales -- that launched in 2006. They published their findings in the journal Nature Wednesday.
“This is the latest study to demonstrate something that came as a surprise to many: that lidars have the sensitivity to provide scientifically useful ocean measurements from space,” said Chris Hostetler, a scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and co-author on the study. "I think we are just scratching the surface of exciting new ocean science that can be accomplished with lidar.”
The study looks at a phenomenon known as Diel Vertical Migration (DVM), in which small sea creatures swim up from the deep ocean at night to feed on phytoplankton near the surface, then return to the depths just before sunrise. Scientists recognize this natural daily movement around the world as the largest migration of animals on Earth in terms of total number.
The cumulative effect of daily vertically migrating creatures on Earth's climate is significant. During the day, ocean phytoplankton photosynthesize and, in the process, absorb significant amounts of carbon dioxide, which contributes to the ocean's ability to absorb the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. Animals that undergo DVM come up to the surface to feed on phytoplankton near the ocean’s surface and then swim back down, taking the phytoplankton carbon with them. Much of this carbon is then defecated at depths where it is effectively trapped deep in the ocean, preventing its release back into the atmosphere.
"What the lidar from space allowed us to do is sample these migrating animals on a global scale every 16 days for 10 years," said Mike Behrenfeld, the lead for the study and a senior research scientist and professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. "We've never had anywhere near that kind of global coverage to allow us to look at the behavior, distribution and abundance of these animals."
Zeroing in on tropical and subtropical ocean regions, researchers found that while there are fewer vertically migrating animals in lower-nutrient and clearer waters, they comprise a greater fraction of the total animal population in these regions. This is because the migration is a behavior that has evolved primarily to avoid visual predators during the day when visual predators have their greatest advantage in clear ocean regions.
Tiny creatures such as small squid, fish and krill are part of the massive vertical migration pattern in the ocean that has now been measured around the world from space. Credits: Chandler Countryman
In murkier and more nutrient-rich regions, the abundance of animals that undergo DMV is higher, but they represent a smaller fraction of the total animal population because visual predators are at a disadvantage. In these regions, many animals just stay near the surface both day and night.
The researchers also observed long-term changes in populations of migrating animals, likely driven by climate variations. During the study period (2008 to 2017), CALIPSO data revealed an increase in migrating animal biomass in the subtropical waters of the North and South Pacific, North Atlantic and South Indian oceans. In the tropical regions and North Atlantic, biomass decreased. In all but the tropical Atlantic regions, these changes correlated with changes in phytoplankton production.
This animal-mediated carbon conveyor belt is recognized as an important mechanism in Earth’s carbon cycle. Scientists are adding animals that undergo DVM as a key element in climate models.
"What these modelers haven't had is a global dataset to calibrate these models with, to tell them where these migrators are most important, where they're most abundant, and how they change over time," said Behrenfeld. "The new satellite data give us an opportunity to combine satellite observations with the models and do a better job quantifying the impact of this enormous animal migration on Earth’s carbon cycle."
The satellite data are also relevant to global fisheries because the migrating animals are an important food source for larger predators that lurk in the depths of the ocean. Those predators are often species of fish that are attractive to commercial fisheries. The larger the DVM signal, the larger the population of fish that can live in the deep sea.
Though CALIPSO's laser was designed to measure clouds and atmospheric aerosols, it can penetrate the upper 20 meters of the ocean's surface layer. If the migrating animals reach this layer, they are detected by CALIPSO.
NASA uses the vantage point of space to understand and explore our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. The agency’s observations of Earth’s complex natural environment are critical to understanding how our planet’s natural resources and climate are changing now and could change in the future.
#NASA, #NASAMoon; ##SaturnMoon, #Titan; #NASA'sJetPropulsionLaboratory
Los Angeles, Nov 19 (Canadian-Media): The first map showing the global geology of Saturn's largest moon Titan has been completed by NASA scientists showing fully reveals a dynamic world of dunes, lakes, plains, craters and other terrains, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said in a release, NASA reports said.
First global geologic map of Saturn's largest moon: Image credit/JPL/NASA
Besides Earth, Titan is the only planetary body in the solar system that contains liquid on its surface. But instead of water raining down from clouds Earth, what rains down is methane and ethane "making its surface one of most geologically diverse in the solar system," Rosaly Lopes, a planetary geologist at JPL and lead author of new research, said.
Although Earth and Titan have different materials, temperatures and gravity fields, many similarities between the surface features in these two worlds leads to the interpretation as these being products of the same geologic processes.
The findings of Lopes and her team consisting of planetary geologist David Williams of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University in Tempe, who used data from NASA's Cassini mission, were recently published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Washington, Nov 16 (Canadian-Media): NASA will host a media teleconference at 4:30 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 18, to announce additional American companies joining the competitive pool for delivery services to the surface of the Moon through the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) project, NASA reports said.
Image credit: NASA
The teleconference audio and supporting visuals will stream live on the agency’s website.
In July, NASA announced an opportunity for American companies to join the CLPS contract to deliver larger, heavier payloads to lunar surface. The newly selected companies, along with the original nine selected in November 2018, all will be eligible to bid on future lunar delivery services, including task orders for heavier payloads, as well as payload integration and operations.
The investigations and demonstrations launching on CLPS flights will help NASA study the Moon as it prepares to send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface by 2024 through the agency’s Artemis program, with eventual human missions to Mars.
The teleconference participants are:
Steve Clarke, deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington
To participate by phone, media must contact Johnson's newsroom at 281-483-5111 by noon (11 a.m. CST) Nov. 18.
For more information about NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services, visit:
Washington, Nov 12 (Canadian-Media): Media and social media influencers are invited to NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans Monday, Dec. 9, for Artemis Day: Michoud/Stennis. Those attending will get a rare, up-close look at the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will help power the first Artemis mission to the Moon.
On Nov. 6, engineers and technicians attached the last of four RS-25 engines that will provide the necessary thrust for the SLS rocket to reach space. To complete assembly of the stage, technicians now are attaching the engines to propulsion and avionics systems inside the core stage, which also houses the flight computers that control the rocket during its first eight minutes of flight. NASA will showcase the completed core stage in December.
Artemis Day will begin at 9 a.m. EST (8 a.m. CST) and feature a news conference with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who will discuss the status of the agency’s Artemis program. A question-and-answer session will follow the discussion. The news conference will be carried live on NASA Television and agency website.
On Tuesday, Dec. 10, participants also will have the opportunity to visit and tour NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and see where the core stage will be tested before it is shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch with the Orion spacecraft.
Media who would like to attend the event should contact Tracy McMahan at 256-544-0034 or Tracy.McMahan@nasa.gov no later than 5 p.m. CST, Wednesday, Dec. 4, and provide information for badging. Media should plan to arrive at Michoud by 7 a.m. CST,
Monday, Dec. 9.
Social media influencers are invited to register to attend the event. A maximum of 50 social media users will be selected for the event and will be given access similar to traditional media. Social media registration for this event opens Tuesday, Nov. 12, and closes at 11:59 p.m. CST Friday, Nov. 15. Only one person can register for each social account/site, and the registration cannot be is transferred to another person. Full details on applying for NASA Socials can be found at:
Media and social media influencers must be U.S. citizens with at least one form of valid, government-issued photo identification. All attendees must wear long pants and flat, closed-toe shoes with no heels.
Media and social influencers will have the opportunity to:
On Nov. 6, engineers and technicians attached the last of four RS-25 engines that will provide the necessary thrust for the rocket to reach space. To complete assembly of the stage, technicians now are attaching the engines to propulsion and avionics systems inside the core stage, which also houses the flight computers that control the rocket during its first eight minutes of flight. In December, engineers will perform testing on all the avionics and electrical systems. Then, NASA’s barge, Pegasus, will transport the completed core stage from Michoud to Stennis for the Green Run test series in 2020.
The 212-foot-tall core stage, comprised of two liquid propellant tanks and four RS-25 engines, is the powerhouse of the SLS rocket. It will produce more than 2 million pounds of thrust to send Orion, astronauts, and cargo to the Moon. It is the largest, most complex rocket stage NASA has built since the Saturn V stages that powered the Apollo missions to the Moon.
SLS and Orion, along with the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, are NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration and the Artemis program, which will send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface by 2024. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon on a single mission.
#NASAVoyager2; #Heliosphere; #Astronomy
United States, Nov 6 (Canadian-Media): NASA’s Voyager 2 became only the second spacecraft in history one year ago, on Nov. 5, 2018, to leave the heliosphere -- the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by our Sun, AstronomyNow Magazine reported.
An artist’s impression of NASA’s Voyager 2 probe, now 18 billion kilometres (11 billion miles) from Earth, in the early stages of passing out of the Sun’s influence and into interstellar space. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
At a distance of about 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometres) from Earth – well beyond the orbit of Pluto – Voyager 2 had entered interstellar space, or the region between stars. On 4 November, five new research papers in the journal Nature Astronomy describe what scientists observed during and since Voyager 2’s historic crossing.
The findings from one of Voyager 2’s five operating science instruments: a magnetic field sensor, two instruments to detect energetic particles in different energy ranges and two instruments for studying plasma (a gas composed of charged particles) were detailed in each paper.
The findings help paint a picture of this cosmic shoreline, where the environment created by our Sun ends and the vast ocean of interstellar space begins.
The Sun’s heliosphere is like a ship sailing through interstellar space. Both the heliosphere and interstellar space are filled with plasma, a gas that has had some of its atoms stripped of their electrons. The plasma inside the heliosphere is hot and sparse, while the plasma in interstellar space is colder and denser. The space between stars also contains cosmic rays, or particles accelerated by exploding stars. Voyager 1 discovered that the heliosphere protects Earth and the other planets from more than 70% of that radiation.
The twin Voyager probes are both outside the heliosphere, the protective bubble created by charged particles streaming away from the Sun. This graphic shows the relative positions of the Voyager spacecraft and how the heliosphere is distorted by its passage through the cooler, denser interstellar medium. Click the image for an expanded view. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
When Voyager 2 exited the heliosphere last year, scientists announced that its two energetic particle detectors noticed dramatic changes: The rate of heliospheric particles detected by the instruments plummeted, while the rate of cosmic rays (which typically have higher energies than the heliospheric particles) increased dramatically and remained high. The changes confirmed that the probe had entered a new region of space.
Before Voyager 1 reached the edge of the heliosphere in 2012, scientists didn’t know exactly how far this boundary was from the Sun. The two probes exited the heliosphere at different locations and also at different times in the constantly repeating, approximately 11-year solar cycle, over the course of which the Sun goes through a period of high and low activity. Scientists expected that the edge of the heliosphere, called the heliopause, can move as the Sun’s activity changes, sort of like a lung expanding and contracting with breath. This was consistent with the fact that the two probes encountered the heliopause at different distances from the Sun.
The new papers now confirm that Voyager 2 is not yet in undisturbed interstellar space: Like its twin, Voyager 1, Voyager 2 appears to be in a perturbed transitional region just beyond the heliosphere.
“The Voyager probes are showing us how our Sun interacts with the stuff that fills most of the space between stars in the Milky Way galaxy,” said Ed Stone, project scientist for Voyager and a professor of physics at Caltech. “Without this new data from Voyager 2, we wouldn’t know if what we were seeing with Voyager 1 was characteristic of the entire heliosphere or specific just to the location and time when it crossed.”
#NASA; #Boeing’sCST100Starliner; #testofitsabortsystem, #Mexico
Washington, Nov 5 (Canadian-Media): A critical safety milestone was completed by Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner in an end-to-end test of its abort system at Launch Complex 32 at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on Monday, NASA reports said.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner’s four launch abort engines and several orbital maneuvering and attitude control thrusters ignite in the company’s Pad Abort Test, pushing the spacecraft away from the test stand with a combined 160,000 pounds of thrust, from Launch Complex 32 on White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Credits: NASA
The test was designed to verify the function of each of Starliner’s systems not only separately, but in concert, to ensure the safely of the astronauts in the unlikely event of an emergency prior to liftoff.
As part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, this was Boeing’s first flight test with Starliner to return human spaceflight launches to the International Space Station from American soil.
“Tests like this one are crucial to help us make sure the systems are as safe as possible,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager. “We are thrilled with the preliminary results, and now we have the job of really digging into the data and analyzing whether everything worked as we expected.”
In about 95 seconds for the demonstration from the moment the simulated abort was initiated until the Starliner crew module touched down on the desert ground.
“Emergency scenario testing is very complex, and today our team validated that the spacecraft will keep our crew safe in the unlikely event of an abort,” said John Mulholland, Vice President and Program Manager, Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “Our teams across the program have made remarkable progress to get us to this point, and we are fully focused on the next challenge—Starliner’s uncrewed flight to demonstrate Boeing’s capability to safely fly crew to and from the space station.”
Boeing’s next mission, called Orbital Flight Test, will launch an uncrewed Starliner spacecraft to the station on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41. Launch is targeted for Dec. 17.
#NASA; #NorthropGrummanCygnus; #NASA’sWallopsFlightFacility
Washington, Nov 3 (Canadian-Media): On the 19th anniversary of the arrival of the first crew to live aboard the International Space Station, a Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply spacecraft is on its way to the orbiting outpost with almost 8,200 pounds of science investigations and cargo after launching at 9:59 a.m. EDT Saturday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
A crowd watches from a safe distance as Northrop Grumman launches its 12th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from Pad-0A of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Nov. 2, 2019. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The spacecraft launched on an Antares 230+ rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A at Wallops and is scheduled to arrive at the space station around 4:10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 4. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival will begin at 2:45 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Expedition 61 astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch of NASA will use the space station’s robotic arm to capture Cygnus, and NASA’s Andrew Morgan will monitor telemetry. The spacecraft is scheduled to stay at the space station until January.
This delivery, Northrop Grumman’s 12th cargo flight to the space station and the first under its Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract with NASA, will support dozens of new and existing investigations.
Here are some of the scientific investigations Cygnus is delivering to the space station:
More Probing of Mysteries of the Universe
This mission carries components needed to prolong the operational life of Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 (AMS-02). In a series of spacewalks planned in the coming weeks, astronauts will cut and reconnect fluid lines on the instrument, a feat not done before in space, which could prove valuable for future missions at NASA’s upcoming lunar Gateway for the Artemis program or missions to Mars.
Testing Personal Protective Equipment for Astronauts
The AstroRad Vest tests a special garment designed to protect astronauts from radiation caused by unpredictable solar particle events. Astronauts will provide input on the garment as they wear it while performing daily tasks. Use of the vest could protect crew members on missions to the Moon and Mars.
Food Fresh from the Oven
The Zero-G Oven examines heat transfer properties and the process of baking food in microgravity. It uses an oven designed specifically for use aboard the space station, and may have application on future long-duration missions by offering a way to increase variety in flavor and nutrition of food for crew members.
3D Printing with Recycled Materials
The Made in Space Recycler will test systems needed to reprocess plastic into 3D printing filament that can then be transferred for use to the Made in Space Manufacturing Device, a 3D printer that has operated on the orbiting laboratory since 2016. This has implications for space conservation and deep space missions.
These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently happening aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical science, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help to keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars.
This mission, designated NG-12, will be in orbit at the same time as its predecessor, the NG-11 Cygnus spacecraft, which launched in April on an extended duration flight. The NG-12 Cygnus spacecraft will remain at the space station until January before it disposes of several thousand pounds of trash through its fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. The ability to fly two vehicles at once further demonstrates the robustness of Cygnus to support the goals of NASA’s ambitious missions.
The Cygnus spacecraft for this space station resupply mission is named in honor of Alan Bean. The late NASA astronaut flew to the Moon on Apollo 12 and became the fourth human to walk on the lunar surface.
Saturday begins the 20th year of continuous human presence living off-planet aboard the International Space Station. NASA and its partners have successfully supported humans living in space since the Expedition 1 crew arrived Nov. 2, 2000. A truly global endeavor, the unique microgravity laboratory has hosted 239 people from 19 countries, more than 2,600 experiments from 3,900 researchers in 107 countries, and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station is facilitating the growth of a robust commercial market in low-Earth orbit for research, technology development, and crew and cargo transportation and remains the sole space-based proving ground and stepping stone for achieving the goals of the Artemis program, which will send the first woman and next man to land on the Moon in 2024.